Fiqh of Islam (The Understanding of the Religion)
What they said about 'Fiqh':
(peace be upon him) said: Whenever Allah wants to bestow good on someone,
He gives them Fiqh of the Deen.

you will be surprised to learn what the 'Four Great Imams' said ... read more

... And now, are main article on the subject of
By Yusuf Estes

All praise due to Allah the Lord of the universe.  Worthy is He of all praise.
Praised Himself before He created the heavens and the earth.

As He said in the Quran in verse 1 of Surah Fatir
(Interpretation of the meaning is): 

“Praise be to Allah the Originator of the heavens and the earth….”

And in verse 1 of Surah An' am (Interpretation of the meaning is):

Praise be to Allah, who created the heavens and the earth, and made the darkness and the light
He Praised Himself for sending down the revelation when He said
(Interpretation of the meaning is)

“Praise be to Allah who hath sent to His servant the Book, and hath allowed therein no crookedness.”
Praise be at the beginning and at the end (Interpretation of the meaning is).

He whom Allah guided is rightly guided, but he whom Allah leaves to astray - for him wilt thou find no protector to lead him to the Right Way.

With your permission, O Allah guide us to the difference in the truth.  Peace and blessing be upon the best of creation, Mohammed  (May Peace Be Upon Him), who is guidance for mankind.  Amma Ba;ad. (Interpretation of the meaning is)

So turn thou thy face to the religion being upright, the nature of which Allah has made mankind.  No change (there is) in the work (wrought) by Allah: That is the true religion: but most among mankind know not.  Turn ye in repentance to Him and fear Him.Establish regular prayers, and be ye not among those who join gods with Allah - those who split up their religion and become (mere) sects - each party rejoicing in that which is with itself.(30:30-32)

In an authentic hadith, the Prophet Mohammed  (May Peace Be Upon Him) is reported to have said (Interpretation of the meaning is):

&;As the Jews and Christians divided into 71 or 72 groups you (Muslims) will divide into 73. All of which would be in the Fire of Hell, except one.  And that is the one that me and my companions are on today.

         In present times we can see the reality of Rasulullah’s  (May Peace Be Upon Him) prediction.  Instead of forming a united brotherhood, the Ummah of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) has split itself into many different groups.  Each group is pleased with what it has, to the extent that the people of one group refuse to pray with the others.  Also, the people of one group negate the advice of their Muslim brothers, and refuse to listen to anything they have to say concerning Allah;s religion because, for example, they say, ;Those brothers follow Madhab.;  In addition to this, they’re those who say that the people who follow madhab are committing taqleed (imitation).  And there are today, too many different groups to count.

The only way to reunite the Ummah of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) is to follow the book of Allah and the hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  We must do whatever They, Allah and His messenger  (May Peace Be Upon Him), have told us to do, and we must abstain from whatever They have forbidden us.  Allah, The Exalted, has said (Interpretation of the meaning is):  Say; if you do love Allah, follow me: Allah will love you and forgive you your sins: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”

  Allah, the Most High, has commanded the Muslims in this, and many other versed of Quran to follow Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him); and there are also many hadith that command the same.  Every Muslim should try his best to obey this commandment by following the Sunnah of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  The best way to do this is to be particular about his hadiths.  

There is a hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) narrated by one of his companions.  He, the companion, said (Interpretation of the meaning is), “The Messenger of Allah gave us advice that made our hearts tremble and our eyes over-flow with tears.  And we said, “Oh Messenger of Allah, this seems like the advice of someone who is about to leave us.”  He, the Messenger of Allah  (May Peace Be Upon Him), replied (Interpretation of the meaning is), “I advise you to fear Allah, to hear and obey even if a slave should become your Amir (leader).  Whoever among you lives will see many differences, but he should follow my Sunnah, the Sunnah of the Khulafa Rashedeen Mahdeyeen (rightly guided leadership).  Hold fast to it and stay away from innovation, because every innovation is misguidance.”  

Imam Ahmed, Abu Dawud, at-Tirmidhi in another narration (Interpretation of the meaning is); “I left you in the clear white, the day of it is like the night.  Only the one who goes away from it is lost.  Whomever among you lives will see a lot of differences, but he should follow whatever he knows of my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the Khulafa Rashedeen Mahdeyeen.;  In a separate hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Ammar bin Al-As (May Allah be pleased with him), Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) is reported to have said (Interpretation of the meaning is); “Knowledge is three: first, a fundamental verse from Quran; second, straightforward Sunnah; third, whatever Allah has made obligatory on us.  Anything more than this is extra.”  Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah 

 The Messenger of Allah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) has ordered the Muslims to seek knowledge.  Differences arise out of ignorance, misunderstanding, and incorrect interpretations.  After Quran, the highest level of knowledge is the hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  Those who study his Sunnah, who commit it to memory, who hold fast to it, and try their best to live by it are the best among us.  They are scholars of the highest level.  Imam Shafi’, his teacher, Wakia’, As-Shabi, and Abdur-Rahman are such scholars.  Knowledge of the hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) has elevated them in their lives.  And even after their deaths, it has caused them to be held in high esteem.  During their lives they were always advising the Muslims to seek knowledge and learn the hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  Present day Muslims should follow their advice, and the advice of the Holy Prophet  (May Peace Be Upon Him) when he ordered the Muslims to narrate concerning him at least one verse.  And whoever tells a lie against Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) intentionally will find himself in hellfire.  

To bring about a greater understanding of what is happening to the Muslim Ummah today, to understand those who follow the madhab and those who do not, and to fully grasp the reason for the difference that exist, we must study hadith. 

 In order to discuss the hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) thoroughly, it is necessary to be familiar with the etiquettes of hadith.  There are etiquettes for scholars of hadith.  There are certain things that scholars should know, and there are things that are preferable for them to do.  Imam Ghazali speaks about some of these things in his book; Etiquettes of Deen.  He writes that the person who gives hadith should always speak the truth.  He should narrate only authentic hadiths with trustworthy narrators, and he should stay away from hadith that are manakir or daeef.  He should not mention what happened among the early successors.  Also it is important for him to know the time of the hadith that he is narrating.  And most importantly, he should take great care not to make any mistakes in his narration, and not to make any changes in the hadith he is narrating.  In addition to this, he should avoid indulging in vain talk.  And he should be thankful that Allah has blessed him and elevated him with knowledge of the hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  And lastly, he should make sure that whatever he narrates of hadith is beneficial to the Muslims.  It should help them follow the Sunnah, and better understand the book of Allah.

Aside from certain etiquettes that he should follow, there are also certain things that a scholar of hadith should know.  According to Imam Nawawi, they are as follows: he should know fiqh, and the fundamentals of Islam.  He should have a command of the Arabic language.  He must know the names of the narrators and the chins of narration.  It is also important that he associates and collaborates with other knowledgeable scholars.

As previously stated, there are also certain etiquettes that students of hadiths should follow.  The student of hadith should only listen to strong hadith.  He should avoid strange or weak hadith, and he should pay close attention to what he hears.  He should write down for study only authentic hadith with trustworthy narrators.  He should be humble and truthful.  And above all, he should fear Allah.

The hadith of Rasoolulah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) is as Allah says in Surah Najm (Interpretation of the meaning is): 
“He does not speak out of his desire.  It is only a relation that has been revealed.”  

From this statement it is obvious that whatever Prophet Mohammed  (May Peace Be Upon Him) has said is authentic and that is what the Muslims should follow.  

(May Peace Be Upon Him) is made up of three things: the Quran, hadith Qudsi, and hadith Nabawi (hadith of the prophet).  The Quran is the word of Allah, which He has promised to keep pure and unchanged.  Hadith Qudsi is a hadith, which the Prophet Mohammed  (May Peace Be Upon Him) narrated directly from Allah.  When he narrated this type of hadith he would always say (Interpretation of the meaning is); “My Lord said,” or “My Lord has said…” etc.  The third type, hadith Nabawi, is hadith, which Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) narrated from himself.  In his book, Al-Ebrezee, Sayd Ahmed Ibn Mubarak describes the differences between these types of hadith in the following way.  According to him, when Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) spoke there were three kinds of light.  There was the kind of light that was very old like the light of Allah, which has no beginning and is very strong.  This is the light that occurred when an angel came to Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) with Quran.  When there was no angel and Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) narrated that his Lord said such and such, this had a light on or from the soul of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  This is the hadith Qudsi.  In the case of hadith Nabawi, this was the light of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) himself.  It is important to realize that this explanation of the three types of hadith is only one of many.  

It would be impossible to continue a discussion of hadith without mentioning different kinds of hadith.  Including all of the books of hadith, we find that there are more than one hundred.  Entire books could be written on this subject alone.  Therefore, for the purpose of this paper only about twenty of these different kinds of hadith will be mentioned.   We will start with hadith Sahih, the authentic hadith.  The leaders of this field have defined hadith Sahih as a hadith in which the chain of narration is continuous from a person who is well known for being truthful and trustworthy, and for having a strong memory and a good character, to another person with the same characteristics, to one of the companions, to Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  And there are other chains with different levels.  

There are also different levels among the countries where hadith are narrated.  Ibn Taymeeyah has said that the people of hadith have all agreed that the most authentic hadith are narrated by the people of Medina, next by the people of Basra, and after them by the people of As-Shams.  Imam Khatib has also stated that the most authentic narration of hadith come from the people of Mecca and Medina.

As previously stated, has many different levels.  The highest of them is what Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim have agreed on.  Next, is what Imam Bukhari and his student, Imam Muslim has collected from authenticated sayings and teachings of the prophet, peace be upon him.  After that comes whatever has been narrated according to the rules and conditions as set forth by both Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim together.  Then comes the hadith that have been using the conditions set Imam Bukhari.  The next level consists of hadith that have been narrated according to Imam Muslim’s conditions.  

Of all the books of hadith, the most authentic is Imam Bukhari’s Sahih Bukhari.  After writing his book, Imam Bukhari stated that he had memorized one hundred thousand authentic hadith and two hundred thousand other kinds of hadith.  Yet the books of Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim combined contain only a fraction of this number.  Therefore, it is obvious that these two books, Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, do not contain all of the authentic hadith that exist.  Three other books of hadith, the Sunman Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi, and An-Nasai’, along with the "Sahih"s of Bukhari and Muslim make up what the scholars call Al Usulu Khamsa.  These five books of hadith contain most but not all of the authentic hadith. 

 There are seven different kinds of Sahih hadith, and we have already explained these.  Among the common hadith, that is hadith that are authentic, good, or weak, there are nineteen different kinds.  And among the weak hadith there are nine.  These classifications have been made by the scholars of hadith, and from them are derived other classifications that are too technical for the scope of this paper. 

 Now, we turn the focus of our discussion to the weak hadith.  The reason for this is the fact that weak hadith have caused some of the differences that divided the Muslim Ummah today.  However, this does not mean that weak hadith are bad.  Imam Sakhawi has said that Abu Dawud includes weak hadith in his book of hadith because he says that the weak hadiths are dearer to him than the opinions of the scholars.  Imam Ahmed Ibn Hanbal has said that his son, Abdullah Ibn Ahmed, said that he heard his father, Ahmed, saying that you only see a man using his own opinion if he has some wrong in his heart; and the weak hadith are stronger to him than opinions.  Also, Imam Ahmed Ibn Hanbal was told about two men in a village; one narrated hadith but did not know which were authentic and which was not, the other gave his own opinions.  Imam Ahmed advised the people in the village to seek advice from the man who had knowledge of the hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  And Imam Ibn Taymeeyah has stated that we, the scholars of hadith, say that the weak hadiths are better than opinions.  It should be noted that weak hadith does not mean hadith that are matruk.  It means hadith that are Hasan, good.  Lastly, some of the scholars of hadith have said that weak hadith are better than qias (opinions). 

 Qias is a kind of ruling that scholars use when they have been asked a question and they do not have a narration.  They base their answer on a narration that is similar to what they have been asked.  

Another kind of hadith that has not been mentioned thus far is hadith al-mawdua’ (fabricated).  This is hadith that has been made up, fabricated.  The scholars of hadith can recognize which hadith are mawdua’ and which are not by looking at the chain of narration, by looking at the words of the hadith, and by knowing whether or not the hadith contradicts a well known sunnah of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) or a verse of Quran.  These hadiths are very dangerous.  They are, in fact, even more harmful to Ummah of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) than the non-Muslims who are against Islam.  This is because they take the Muslims away from the straight path and away from the mill of Ibrahim  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  

Sometimes they are the result of an honest mistake on the part of the one who is narrating the hadith.  Perhaps he was half-asleep, or he was not paying full attention when he heard the hadith.  Maybe as he became old his memory became weak.  Some narrators have fabricated hadith to give people glad tidings, or to warn them.  And they have done this with the best intentions.  Others have narrated hadith al-mawdua’ to give support to their own opinions.  Still others have done it to please those in authority.  Also, some of these hadiths have been narrated by the Sufis.  May Allah guide us and protect us all.  

Yet, after the whole Ummah has accepted these books and held them in high regard, some present day scholars have criticized them.  They have said that some of the hadith contained in these books are weak because of some of the narrators.  So let us examine the validity of this criticism by considering what many other respected scholars have to say on the subject.  Hafiz Abu Bakr Al Khatib has said that whatever hadiths Bukhari and Muslim have narrated, and whatever narrators they have narrated their hadiths from should be accepted.  They should be accepted even if some of the narrators have been accused of some character flaw, like lying, because there is not enough evidence to support such accusations.  In one of his books, Imam Nawawi has said that when some scholars say that certain of the hadiths narrated by Bukhari and Muslim are weak they are wrong because the reasons they use to say that the hadith are weak are not serious enough to make the hadith weak.  In the introduction to his book, Al Fath, Ibn Hajar had the following to say about the narrators used by Bukhari and Muslim, “Every fair man should know that whenever Bukhari and Muslim narrated a hadith from certain narrators, it means that this narrator is fair, truthful, and has a strong memory.”  

  He told the man that each of the narrators had passed the bridge.  This means that even though the narrators might have had some shortcomings, as all humans do, they have fulfilled all of the requirements that narrators must meet.  Therefore, whenever someone says that the hadiths that Bukhari and Muslim have narrated are weak, these sayings should be ignored according to the scholars that have mentioned.  As a footnote, it is necessary to emphasize the importance of hearing a narration first hand rather than reading it in a book.  The best way to illustrate this point is by the following example.  

  When his students pointed out the fact that he narrated hadith from Al-Kallbi himself, he told them that he knew when Al-Kallbi was lying and when he was telling the truth.  This is not to say that Bukhari or Muslim have done something like this.  It is just an example to illustrate the handicap of those who investigate hadith today.

  Now, that we have some background information, we can begin to explore the main topic of this paper, the religious differences that exist in the Muslim Ummah today.  In order to fully understand these differences, it is imperative that we talk briefly about the companions of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him), may Allah be pleased with them all.  First, all of the sahabah were fair people.  Imam Nawawi said in his book, At-Taqrb, “All of the companions of the Prophet  (May Peace Be Upon Him) are fair people; those who lived in the time of trouble after the Prophet’s  (May Peace Be Upon Him) death, as well as those who died before this time.”  This saying is the opinion of all the great, most respected, and trustworthy scholars.

 (May Peace Be Upon Him) even once.  Among the companions of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) there are different levels.  Not all of them were like Abu Bakr or Umar the other great companions, may Allah be pleased with all of them.  Those companions who fought with Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) under his flag and accompanied him for long periods of time are more highly elevated than those who did not.  Also, among the companions there were some that were well known for giving fatawas (legal rulings) and others who were well known for narrating hadith.

  He was responsible for narrating 5,374 hadith.  In addition to this, more than three hundred men have listened to him and narrated his hadith.  Imam Shafi’ has said that Abu Hurairah had memorized more hadith than any one else at his time.  At the funeral of Abu Hurairah, Ibn Umar said that Abu Hurairah was guardian and protector of the hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) for the Muslims.  

  He memorized 2,630 hadith.  After him is Ana Ibn Malik who narrated 2,286 hadith.  Ibn Abbas narrated 1,660 hadith.  Jabir Ibn Abdullah narrated 1,540 hadith.  Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri narrated 1,170 hadith.  And the Mother of the Believers, A'ishah narrated 2,010 hadith.  None of the other sahabah who narrated hadith narrated more than 1,000.  May Allah be pleased with them all.  There is poetry about the sahabah who narrated more than one thousand hadiths that goes: 

 “Seven among the companions have narrated more than one thousand hadiths form the Prophet  (May Peace Be Upon Him), the chosen one.  Those are:  Abu Hurairah, Sa’id, Jabir, Anas, A'ishah, Ibn Abbas, also Ibn Umar.”

  This is according to Ibn Hasb.  From the fatawas of each one of these, entire books could be written.  After them there are twenty other companions of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) who gave fatawas.  They were:  Abu Bakr, ‘Uthman, Abu Musa, Mu’atha, Sa’d Ibn Abi Waqqas, Abu Hurairah, Anas, Abdullah Ibn Umar Ibn Al Aus, Sulman, Jabir, Abu Sa’id, Talha, Az-Zubair, Abdur-Rahman bin Auf, Umran Ibn Hasin, Ubada Ibn As-Sammit, Muawia, and Umm Salama.  In addition to these, there are one hundred twenty people from the Sahabah who also gave fatawas, but not as many as those who have already been mentioned.  Of all the sahabah that we have talked about, the most famous are Umar bin Al-Khattab and Ali Ibn Abi Talib.  This is because they were among the Khulafa, and they ruled and judged among the people.  However, the Muslims should listen to the fatawas and hadiths of all the companions of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him), and we should follow their example,

  There are many reasons for this.  Some of them died before the people needed them.  Others kept themselves busy worshipping Allah and fighting Jihad, so they passed away without narrating many hadiths.  Also, many of the older companions did not narrate as many hadith as some of the younger companions like Ibn Umar and Ibn Abbas because they did not live as long after the Prophet’s  (May Peace Be Upon Him) death.  

  Usul refers to the basic things.  Furua’, on the other hand, refers to extra things that are not basic.  In speaking about these differences the scholar Waliullah Al-Dahlawi has said in his book, Al-Huaja Al-Baligha, that during the time of the Prophet  (May Peace Be Upon Him) fiqh was not written down and searching in the ruling of Islam was not so famous among the scholars of fiqh.  This was because they used to watch Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) and imitate what he did.  For example, the sahabah would watch him make wudhu and he would not say that this is fardh, or this is Sunnah, or this is mustahabad.  Fardh is fundamental, Sunnah is extra, and mustahabad is preferable.  None of the sahabah questioned him about such things.  Only after the time of the Prophet  (May Peace Be Upon Him) did the scholars of fiqh raise these kind of questions.  About these kind of things, Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, has said that he had never seen any people better than the companions of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him); and in his lifetime they did not ask the Prophet  (May Peace Be Upon Him) more than thirteen questions.  These thirteen are mentioned in the Quran.  For example (Interpretation of the meaning is): 
 They ask thee concerning fighting in the prohibited month.  Say:  fighting therein is a grave (offense):  but graver is it in the Sight of Allah to prevent access to the path of Allah…”

  It is evident from this, and from the other examples that can be found in Quran that the sahabah only asked questions about things that would benefit them.  Ibn Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, cautioned the people about asking questions about things that did not happen.  He also said that he heard Umar bin Khattab cursing the person who asked about things that did not happen.  Qasim said, “You ask about things that we did not ask about, and you search about things that we did not search about them.  You ask about things I do not know, and if I knew it would not be lawful for me to hide it inside.”  Also, Umar Ibn Ishaq said that he had seen many of the sahabah, and he had not seen since them a people who were easier in their lives and less strict. 

From the examples in the previous paragraph we can see that Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) only gave fatawas when the people needed them.  And when he passed away a judgment it was because it was necessary.  When he saw people doing good deeds he would praise them, but if he saw them doing wrong he would condemn it.  Whatever ruling Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) made is what the scholars have used to make their judgment.  Also, whenever Abu Bakr or Umar bin Khattab were asked a question that they had no knowledge of they would ask the people if they had heard anything from Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) on the subject.  For example, once Abu Bakr was asked about what inheritance a grandmother was entitled to.  Since he did not know he asked the people if any of them had heard the Messenger of Allah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) say something about the grandmother.  Al Mughir Ibn Sha’ab said that he heard the Messenger of Allah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) say something about the grandmother’s share was 1/6.  Mohammed ibn Salama confirmed what Al-Mughir said, so Abu Bakr gave the grandmother 1/6.  On another occasion, Umar bin Khattab was traveling to As-Shams when there was a plague in this city.  He did not know whether they should go forward or turn back, so he asked.  Then Abdur-Rahman ibn Auf narrated from the hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) that if it happens in one city while you are there do not leave, but if it happens before you get there do not go.  There are many other examples like the two that have been mentioned.  This was a very great habit of the sahabah.  Later on, after Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) and the Khulafa Rashedeen passed away, the companions the other countries and cities in the Muslim world.  Each one of them became like an Imam or an example for the people to follow.  When questions came up, each of them would answer according to what he had memorized of the hadith, or what he had made istimbad.  If he could not come up with an answer from what he had memorized, or he could not do istimbad, he would give an answer from his own opinion based on what he knew of the reasons why Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) made a certain judgment.  This is when differences began to appear.  Many differences came about because one companion had heard a judgment or ruling that another companion had not, so the other companion would give his opinion or use istimbad.  This happened in many different ways.  Sometimes when one of the companions would make istimbad his ruling would be accordance with the hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  For example, An-Nasai’ has narrated that Ibn Mas’ud was asked to make a decision concerning a woman whose husband had died before fixing the amount of her dowry.  Ibn Mas’ud had not heard of a judgment by Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) on the subject, so he did not want to give a fatawa.  However, the people insisted, so after a month he ruled that the wife should receive a dowry comparable to what other women had received.  She should observe iddat and then inherit from her husband.  Later on another companion stated that he had heard Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) give the same ruling. 

 Differences also arose from misunderstandings and forgetfulness.  For instance, when Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) made Hajj some people who saw him said that he made Hajj and Umrah together, other people said that he made them separate.  Abu Dawud narrated that Sa’id ibn Jabir said to Abdullah ibn Abbas, “Oh father Abbas I wonder about the differences between the companions of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) when he (Rasulullah  May Peace Be Upon Him) made intentions for Hajj and Umrah.”  Abdullah replied, “Among all the people I know the best about that.  That happened when the Messenger of Allah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) made one Hajj.  He prayed two rakat in Masjid Dhilhalifa and he made intentions and did tahlil in his place.  Some people saw him, and then he rode his camel until the camel started walking straight toward Mecca and he made tahlil again.  Another group of people saw him and they said that he only made tahlil when he rode him camel.  Then he kept riding his camel until it started going uphill and he made tahlil a third time.  A different group of people saw him and they said that he only made tahlil when he was going uphill.  But I (Abdullah ibn Abbas) swear that he made tahlil when he prayed and when his camel started walking with him and when it went uphill.”  An example of forgetfulness is Ibn Umar when he use to say that Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) made Umrah during the Islamic month of Rajab.  When A'ishah heard this she judged that he must have forgotten.  

This happened, for example, when Ibn Umar narrated that Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) said that the dead person will be punished in his grave for his people crying over him.  A'ishah said no.  She said that the funeral of a Jewish lady passed by Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) and he saw her people crying and said (Interpretation of the meaning is), “They are crying over her and she is being punished in her grave.”  Ibn Umar though that punishment because of crying was a general ruling, but A'ishah said that it was only a specific case because that woman was a Jew.  In addition to this, there differences in understanding the reasons behind certain judgments.  A good example of this is standing up for the funeral.  One person said that it was because of the disaster of death, which is for believers and non-believers.  Al-Hasan ibn Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the funeral of a Jewish person passed by the Messenger of Allah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) and he stood up because he disliked having the funeral of non-believer pass higher than him.

  Also, differences came about when Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) gave one judgment then changed it.  Perhaps one companion was present when Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) gave permission for something, but was absent when he forbade it.  There are many, many examples of this.  Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) said (Interpretation of the meaning is) that when answering the call of nature, a person should neither face the Qiblah (direction of the Ka'bah in Mecca) nor turn his back to it.  Some people considered this to be a general ruling that was not changed, but Jabir said that he had seen Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) one year before his death facing the Qiblah and urinating.  Therefore, he considered the previous ruling to be changed.  Ibn Umar also saw Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) urinating with his back to the Qiblah and his face towards Syria.  From this Sha’abi and other scholars understand that it is forbidden to turn the face or back towards the Qiblah only if you are in an open place like the desert, not if you are in a closed place like a bathroom.  However, some still maintain that it is a general ruling that applies whenever you are answering nature’s call.

  Now that some of the differences of the companions have been explained and discussed, we can go on to understand why the people of one city knew hadith that the people of other cities were unfamiliar with.  And we can also begin to understand the differences between the mahadhab.  Scholar Waliullah Al-Dahlawi has written in one of his books that Allah created after the early successors people who carry the knowledge to fulfill the promise of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) when he said that this knowledge would be carried in each generation by the most fearing people among them.

  Later, other scholars studied and memorized these hadith and fatawas and wrote them down. After them other great scholars like Imam Malik, Imam Haneefah, Imam Shafi’ etc. came and they memorized different hadith from different times and different places.  During the time of Imam Malik, the Caliph at that time decided to order the Muslims to read and follow Imam Malik’s books, but Imam Malik advised against it saying, “…There has reached the people knowledge before mine, and they have heard different hadith.  Each group of people have practiced what they have heard before me.  There are differences so leave the people with whatever they have chosen for themselves.”  It is important to note that among the people of Medina Imam Malik was the most authentic man in narrating hadith, and the most knowledgeable of the fatawas of Umar bin Khattab, Abdullah ibn Umar, and A'ishah and the seven fuqahah.  His students and companions gathered, collected, and wrote down his fatawas and speeches.  With this knowledge they spread across the west portion of the Muslim world in much the same way as Imam Abu Hanifa’s companions had earlier spread to the east.

  He was especially knowledgeable in furua’.  He used to carefully investigate day and night to get to the best saying of it.  His madhab became famous in the eastern part of the Islamic world when one of his students, Abu Yusuf, became a judge.  Mohammed ibn Hasan was another one of Imam Abu Hanifa’s student.  He studied fiqh from Abu Hanifa and Abi Yusuf.  He also went to Medina and read Imam Malik’s book, Muwatta.  Then he applied both of the madhahab together one question at a time.  If they agreed he would accept them, but if there was a disagreement he would try to find a saying of the sahabah or the early successors in support of Abu Hanifa or Abi Yusuf.  If he could not he would use the hadith of Imam Malik.

  He studied the work of the scholars who came before him and he found that some of them had used hadith that were mursal or mukata and this would sometimes weaken the judgment.  Instead he used to look for hadiths with authentic narration and he would act according to them.

  This was the time when Imam Ahmed Ibn Hanbal and the people of hadith came and began to study hadith.  They knew which hadith were authentic and which were not.  They also knew which hadith contained weaknesses in their wording or in their chains of narration.  These people devoted their lives to the pursuit of knowledge.  They studied the hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) in detail and they traveled all over the Muslim world to collect them.  Hadith were collected that had previously only been known to one or two of the companions or that had been narrated from one companion to one early successor to one or two other people and was unknown to many early scholars.  As a result of this the number of authentic hadith increased and people were provided with a chance to read and study hadith that were unavailable to many people before them.

  It is a gift that He has not bestowed upon any other religion.  The Jews do not have any sayings that they can trace directly back to Moses  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  The Christians also do not have any narration from one person to another, to Jesus  (May Peace Be Upon Him), except one.  This one is a saying from Jesus  (May Peace Be Upon Him) that there is no divorce in Christianity.

  However, now the hadith have come together.  If we have any questions we should consult the Quran and the Hadith.  If the answer cannot be found in either of them we should look to the scholars.  If there is one thing that they have agreed on we should accept it as the most authentic answer and follow it.  We should follow the example of Abu Bakr and Umar bin Al-Khattab.  As it has been mentioned earlier, whenever Abu Bakr was asked a question he would look in the book of Allah.  If he found an answer he would use it, if he did not, he would look to the hadith.  If he still found no answer he would go to the companions and the people and ask if anyone had heard a saying from Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) on the subject.  If someone had, he would use it and say, “All praise be to Allah, the One who made among us people to memorize the hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him)!”  If no one had heard a saying from Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) he would call the people together and have mushura (consultation) with them, and whatever they agreed on is what he would do.  In a letter to one of the Amir, Umar bin Al-Khattab said, “If something comes to you and you find the answer in the book of Allah use it as a ruling.  And do not look to any other men’s saying.  And if something comes to you that is not in the book of Allah look to the sunnah of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) and use that.  If it is not in the book of Allah or the sunnah of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) see if there is one thing that the people have agreed on.  If there is not then use your own judgment.  Also Ibn Mas’ud has said, “There was a time when we did not make any judgment or pass any fatawas because no one was asking, but Allah has caused something to happen until we have reached what you see.  And if anyone comes to any of you seeking a judgment you should with what is in the book of Allah; if not from the sunnah of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him); if not, you should find what righteous people before you have done and use that.  And you should not say, ‘I fear’ or ‘I see.’  You should use the knowledge he has from the book of Allah, from the sunnah of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) and from the righteous people before you.  This is because Halal and haram are very clear, but between them are things that are not clear.  Therefore, leave what is doubtful and keep what is not.”

 (May Peace Be Upon Him).  Again, we should take our example from the companions of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  Qatada has narrated that Ibn Ithiren told a man a hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) and the man replied, “But such and such person said such and such.”  Ibn Ithiren said, “I tell you what the Prophet  (May Peace Be Upon Him) said and you tell me what such and such person said?”  He left the man and never spoke to him again.  Also, one of the companions said the Umar ibn Abdul Aziz had written in one of his books that no one else has any opinion with the book of Allah if it has a clear statement.  Only the scholars can give fatawa if there is no revelation on the subject or if there is no sunnah from Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  Furthermore, Ibrahim used to say that a person who is praying should stand to the left of the Imam, but Samia Zayat told him that Ibn Abbas said that the Prophet  (May Peace Be Upon Him) made him stand on his right.  When he heard this hadith, Ibrahim stopped saying that the praying person should stand on the left, instead he made him stand to the right of the Imam.  And Sha’abi said that one a man came to him with a question about something.  He answered the man by saying that Ibn Mas’ud used to say that and that; but the man wanted Sha’abi’s opinion.  He said to the other people who were around, “Don’t you wonder about a man like that.  I tell him what Ibn Mas’ud said and he wants my opinion, while my deen is only a pale reflection of this man, Ibn Mas’ud.  I swear by Allah that I would rather sing like a singer than tell you my opinion.  Especially when Ibn Mas’ud has already said something about it.”  And Abdullah ibn Abbas, ’Ata, Mujahid, and Malik ibn Anas, may Allah be pleased with them, have all said that you can take or leave the saying of any each and every person, except the Messenger of Allah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).

  These people have spent their lives learning Islam and practicing the sunnah of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  Allah has blessed them with an abundance of knowledge and elevated them.  When we do what they say it is not because, for example, Shafi’ said that.  It is because he knew the Quran, or the hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him), or one of the companions said that.  That is why things have been written down that Shafi’ said or Abu Hanifa said or any of the other great scholar.  Shafi’ has said that the madhab of Imam Shafi’ is the authentic hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  Imam Hanifa has said, “It is forbidden for one who does not know my proof to give my fatawa>“ And Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal has said, “Do not imitate me or Shafi’ or Thowdi or Sufyan.  And take from where they took.”

  It is the way of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  That is why the people try their best to follow Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) from the knowledge that has reached them from the scholars or from the companions of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  Allah did not order the Muslims to follow Umar bin Al-Khattab or Shafi’ or Imam Malik or anyone but Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him); but we should follow him all together as one hand.  We should support those who follow the truth and advise those who do not.  Allah has said in His book (Interpretation of the meaning is):
Fear Allah as much as you can.”  

(May Peace Be Upon Him) said in a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah (Interpretation of the meaning is), “If I order you to do something, do from it whatever you can.”  Bukhari and Muslim have narrated this hadith.  This should be the main concern of the Muslims today.  We should focus all of our energy on practicing the knowledge we have from the book of Allah and the sunnah of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  Allah has said in Surah A’raf (Interpretation of the meaning is):

Follow what has been revealed to from your Lord.  And do not follow friends other than Him.”  

“Give glad tidings to my slave.  Those who hear the saying and follow the best of it.”  

  They are the right-minded.  Also, Allah has said in Surah Nisa' (Interpretation of the meaning is): 
 And if you have disputes or differences in something, take it back to Allah and His Messenger if you believe in Allah and the last day.”  

This is My straight path follow it and do not follow other paths,” came to Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) he drew line on the ground with other lines to the right and to the left of it.  He put his finger on the middle line and recited the above verse.  Then he pointed to the other lines and said (Interpretation of the meaning is), “They will take you from the straight path.”  

 (May Peace Be Upon Him), or the great scholars.  If I have said anything that is wrong it is from myself.  And if I have said anything that is right it is from Allah and His Messenger  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  May Allah make it easy for us to understand and open our hearts to each other.  May He be pleased with all of us and give us the success to follow the best of creation, the Messenger of Allah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  The one who Allah has sent as a guide and a mercy to mankind.